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Publication Abstract

Authors: Dixon LB, Cronin FJ, Krebs-Smith SM

Title: Let the pyramid guide your food choices: capturing the total diet concept.

Journal: J Nutr 131(2S-1):461S-472S

Date: 2001 Feb

Abstract: This paper discusses how the guideline "Eat a variety of foods" became "Let the Pyramid guide your food choices," presents background information on the food guidance system upon which the Food Guide Pyramid is based and reviews methods that have been used to assess aspects of the total diet, i.e., the variety, moderation and proportionality, promoted by this guidance. The methods include measures of dietary variety, patterns based on Pyramid food group intakes and scoring methods comprised of multiple dietary components. Highlights of results from these methods include the following. Although approximately one third of the U.S. population eat at least some food from all Pyramid food groups, only approximately 1-3% eat the recommended number of servings from all food groups on a given day. Fruits are the most commonly omitted food group. Vegetables and meat are the groups most commonly met by adults, and dairy the most commonly met by youth. Intakes of specific types of vegetables (i.e., dark green, deep yellow) and of grains (i.e., whole grains) are well below that recommended; intakes of total fat and added sugars exceed current recommendations. Scoring methods show those diets of the majority of the population require improvement, and that diets improve with increases in education and income. This paper also discusses the limitations and strengths of these approaches, and concludes with suggestions to improve current food guidance and methods to assess the total diet.

Last Modified: 03 Sep 2013